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Travel Blog: 1) The Road to Bulgaria

Posted on 10-09-2012 by Elise Joan

It’s remarkably astounding ….. the profound exhale of relief that emanated from my lungs the moment I turned off my iPhone5.  Not just for an hour, or an evening, but for 10 whole days, as I embark on a yoga journey halfway across the globe.  An unexpected yet exhilarating wave of freedom washed over me as I hopped in my friend Allison’s Prius to leave L.A. behind in search of extraordinary… (and still somewhat unknown) adventure in the distant land of Sofiya, Bulgaria.

2 months ago, I could not have identified Sofiya on a map of Eastern Europe.  It was certainly never ‘pinned’ on my “manifest” Pinterest board, or itemized on my “bucket list” of places to visit before I die.  It was never featured on my ‘vision board’, or fantasized about in my daydreams… which tilted more toward love affairs with sailboat owning Spaniards in Barcelona, or (let’s face it) meeting Michael Fassbender at the top of le tour Eiffel in Paris… (I mean, if we’re DREAMING here, “go big or go home”).  So, when I was invited to create my own yoga program to be filmed with a world-renowned crew on the Bulgaria sets of the new “300” prequel, I was a bit perplexed… but a lot intrigued.  There was a mysterious air about the invitation… a tad vague on details, and bit high on optimistic expectations… it almost felt like Willy Wonka was waving around a chocolate ‘Scrumdidleyumptious Bar’,  enticing me to his chocolate factory with no promises of survival, simply the guarantee of a once in a lifetime experience. A foray into the sweet, fantastical, (and occasionally dangerous) unknown.

It was then, that I realized what WAS on my vision board…  and bucket list, and Pinterest page….. a deep yearning for new experiences, and a commitment to saying “YES” to life… with ALL it’s beautiful uncertainties.  I mean… did Indiana Jones know what laid in wait for him when he went in search of the arc of the covenant?  No.  And that didn’t stop him. He’s Indiana Jones for $*#@’s sake!  The siren call of adventure & the desire to be a part of something grand and historically enduring was too seductive for him to be deterred by trivialities like fear or good sense.  I…… completely agree.

Since childhood, when I abandoned the path toward medical school in favor of throwing caution to the wind on the various theatrical stages of NYC, I have always tried to follow my passion.  And…. it has taken me to more glorious & unexpected destinations than I could have possibly planned for myself.   It has also led me astray more than a few times, but even those detours had valuable lessons that rationality could never have taught.

Let’s face it.  Some of us are drawn to a life of comfort & regularity.  of controlled environments, known circumstances, and practical choices.  And some of us……… are not.  Saying “Yes” to life can be scary.  It invites in the unknown.  It requires trust.  And risk.  "Yes" welcomes uncertainty, and can lead us away from what is familiar, and what we had “planned”.  “Yes” can hurl us spinning out of control.  It can change our trajectory on a dime.  “Yes” can be dangerous.  Saying “No” is a lot easier.  “No” does not expand our horizons.  It does not invite change or growth.  “No” is comfortable.  It is stagnant.  and complacent.  “No” is gentle.  and familiar.

But those of us unafraid of facing the precarious and the undiscovered with a resounding “Yes” have the fantastic opportunity to experience ALL life has to offer.  And “Yes”….  looks different to each of us.  Perhaps… you say “Yes” to going back to school after 40, because you believe in that flicker of un-tapped potential.  Maybe your “Yes” is to the adventure of having children, or forgoing a “safe” job to invest in a true career.  Maybe “Yes” means blindly moving across the country.  or opening your own studio.  or learning to tap dance.  Maybe "Yes" is climbing Kilimanjaro… or falling in love.  “Yes” is sensational.  And sometimes, it means falling.  Often and hard.  But…. we who chose “Yes” see the phoenix, where “No” sees only ashes.   “No” will never fall, because “No” never flies.  That is why….. I choose “Yes”.

So yesterday, I grabbed my passport (already stamped by more than 10 countries in the past year and a half) and headed for Eastern Europe, to create what I know will be something…. special.  something innovative.  Something enduring.  I am beyond excited to know that this irrational, exciting, exhilaratingly scary endeavor will take me to a brand new corner of the World, and expand my ‘classroom’ to the include everyone with an internet connection.  And I HOPE… my Yoga passion project will encourage people of all experience to grab their mats, find their inner Yogi, and live a life of “Yes”.

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